Global insurance industry covers $21bn losses from natural disasters this year

The global insurance industry covered $21bn (£12.7bn) of losses from disasters in the first half of 2014 as fewer natural catastrophes kept claims below their long-term average.

The total economic cost of disasters in the first six months was $44bn of which natural events made up $41bn, figures from Swiss Re, the world's second-biggest reinsurer, showed. More than 4,700 people were killed by natural disasters during the period.

The figure for overall economic costs was down from $59bn a year ago and was less than half the first-half average of $94bn in the last decade.

The $21bn total bill for insurance companies fell from $25bn in the first half of last year and a 10-year average of $27bn. Natural disasters made up $19bn of costs in the first six months of 2014 with manmade events accounting for another $2bn.

Insurance losses hit a record of $116bn in 2011 with most of the losses in the first half when the Japanese earthquake cost the industry $35bn.

The most costly insured events in the first half of this year were the $2.6bn bill for May's thunderstorms and hail in the US and $2.5bn each for storm Ela, which hit France, Germany and Belgium in June, and a Japanese snow storm in February.

The freezing winter that slowed the US economy in January also hit the insurance industry with insured losses of $1.7bn out of total losses of $2.5bn. Heavy flooding caused $4.5bn of losses in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and other east European countries but the cost to insurers was "moderate" because of low takeup of insurance, Swiss Re said.

Powered by article was written by Sean Farrell, for on Wednesday 27th August 2014 12.34 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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